Carrier profitability is tight. The driver shortage is worsening. Sustainability efforts are in the spotlight with a focus on the greening of commercial transportation. Trucking industry insurance rates continue to climb due to fatal accidents and costly verdicts. While there are technological solutions to remedy some of the problems individually, a complete autonomous truck platform is well positioned to rectify all these issues at the same time, Locomation.
Most often, hesitation surrounding autonomous vehicles centers on reliability, cost and safety concerns. Locomation — the world’s first technology platform to offer human-guided autonomous truck convoying — set out to address these concerns with a phased approach. The company’s road map to autonomy starts with the Autonomous Relay Network (ARN) and Digital Transportation System and then deploys autonomy through four phases starting with human-guided Autonomous Relay Convoys (ARC) and ends with dock-to-dock solo autonomous trucks. This approach allows potential safety issues to be identified and resolved before they become dangerous and makes initial integration less cost-prohibitive.
Locomation marked its third anniversary in July. It has been a busy summer for the company. In addition to acquiring new, larger office space and bringing on new talent, Locomation rolled out its third generation of autonomous truck technology. These third-generation trucks feature new hardware, including Tier 1-supplied and jointly developed autonomous operation intent steering, brake and powertrain, as well as more advanced autonomy software.
“When we started Locomation, we had a hypothesis that human-guided autonomous truck convoys would be the safest and fastest way to deploy autonomous vehicles on our roadways, and we were right,” said co-founder and CEO Çetin Meriçli. “Not only has our strategy been commercially successful, with 2,120 ARC systems under contract, we have also added a portfolio of AV products with a suite of tools, methods and processes that will enable motor carriers to successfully implement and execute their autonomous truck services.”
Locomation’s platform promises significant cost savings, driver retention improvement, emission reductions and safer operations for adopters.
Based on recent survey data, American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) reports an average cost per mile of $1.71. Tom Kroswek, Locomation’s Vice President of Strategy and Business Development, set out to identify trucking companies with lower-than-average costs per mile, examining their business practices and learning from them.
Kroswek evaluated the factors that led to standout performance and identified two variables as most important: length of haul and utilization factor. The best in class carriers match length of haul against a utilization factor that equates as closely to a days worth of work for a Over the Road driver, somewhere between 450 and 500 miles per day.
Locomation took these factors into account when building its own system. As a result, Locomation tractors will operate for 20 to 22 hours a day, yielding 1,000 to 1,200 miles daily and 240 thousand miles annually, double the industry average.
By increasing average length of haul and utilization, while cutting labor costs in half, Locomation estimates an average per-mile savings of 25 cents with its ARC system, bringing the average cost down to $1.46 per mile. This is inclusive of the expense to use and maintain Locomation’s services.
Driver retention can be improved by the fact that Locomation drivers can be at their home terminal or residence anywhere between 2 and 12 hours per day. With the number one factor for driver turnover being at home time, driver turnover can be on par with dedicated carriers at 30% versus OTR drivers at 100% or more.
This approach also eliminates CO2 emissions by reducing idling and empty miles through the optimization process and the fuel efficiency gains of the Autonomous Systems. Locomation is able to eliminate between 60 and 86 Metric Tons per tractor per year in CO2 emissions dependent on the current state of the participating carrier.
The Locomation technology also implements a safer operating model by limiting the speed of the convoy and assuring lane adherence and safe travel distances from the vehicles in front of them. In fact the safety of the system has supported the association Locomation has with insurers to offer Autonomous trucking insurance for this model.
By creating this complete autonomous platform Locomation is able to create a four-fold value proposition for our customers by reducing operating costs, driver turnover, emissions and insurance rates.
Locomation expects to be the first in the industry to reach 1 billion autonomous miles driven in 2026.